A Close Up of a Tomato Seed. At least, I think it's a Tomato Seed. Wait. That's no Tomato Seed! That's a Space Station!
Walk into any garden store, and you'll be assaulted by a gazillion different varieties of seeds to get your garden growing. Tomatoes (in eight to ten different varieties), peppers (in twelve to sixteen different varieties and levels of heat), carrots (in seven to eleven different varieties. How convenient!), beans, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, squash (3000 varieties - 3001 if you include the game), leeks, fennel, eggplant (which looks nothing like an egg, nor does it produce a large purple vegetable chicken upon opening), melons-water, melons-cantaloupe, melons-honeydew, melons-Isabella (look it up before you begin sending the angry emails and having me banned from campus), spinach. Chard, charred spinach, basil, lemon basil, rathbone basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, heirloom varieties of all the above, plus -- a wide variety of prices all designed to keep you in the grubby little paws of your credit card company until your great grandchildren can finally pay off your debt. (I learned accounting from the government.)
The question becomes: do you really need ten packets of Beefsteak Hybrid tomatoes unless you're canning for a family of twenty-three to survive the Apocalypse? Do you really need all those carrot seeds and do you really how to plant them (don't do it in a pot, don't just scatter the seeds around as you will find carrots growing in the strangest places, do thin out the seedlings, don't expect the rabbits to do it for you and even with one pack of seeds, I really hope you LOVE carrots)? You understand where this is going: You don't need to buy that many packets.
Certainly in the dead of winter, it is an attractive notion. I'm going to buy everything I can so I have colorful things to look at that make spring planting season seem not all that far away. I'll buy seeds and indoor seed starting greenhouses and the tools I needed last year, which I haven't come to realize that I won't need this year and take the days between storms to build new raised bed gardens.
Just don't get carried away -- in terms of seeds or dollars.
For most back yard gardens, you're not going to need twenty packets of anything. Two, actually, should do nicely for a family of four to enjoy regular ripening mid-late season fresh tomatoes and peppers. Two packets (even one, more likely, depending on the size of your garden) should cover all the bases in terms of germination, seedlings, plants, growth and edible results.
Naturally, that never stops me from buying everything I can possibly hold in my hot little hands. I figure three seeds in each hole, to guarantee growth, and begin them in this Burpee seed starter rig I picked up at Home Depot a few weeks ago.
I suppose what I'm saying here is that a little advance planning goes a long way. And, if you're growing corn and potatoes, plan next years garden as well, as these heavy feeders could push you into regular crop rotation.
Please Tell Me They Really Grow Like This ...
(Face it. If the potatoes don't grow, I'm on my way back to the auld country, where generations of Moodys (who didn't ditch the country during the famine) will look at me and say, "Céard sa diabhal atá ar siúl agat anseo?" and "Get the hell up north. You were Protestant until your mother got involved.")
With even a minimum of advance planning, you'll have a garden where the plants complement their neighbors in terms of color, growth patterns and nutrient needs.
Also figure, with solid advance planning, you won't necessarily feel the guilt whenever you look at the 32 packets of seeds you didn't have room for -- or any real inclination to plant, anyway.
After all, what the hell is a rutabaga?